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Explore the improvisational acting method of Viola Spolin to enhance your training as an actor, improviser, educator, writer, or director. Named “one of the most prominent acting techniques” by Backstage, Viola Spolin’s Theater Games release the intuition through focus, spontaneity, and play, opening up new avenues of expression and communication in your work and in your daily life.

FALL 2018 WORKSHOPS:

  • Improvisation for Performance Starts September 4 in Los Angeles
  • Improvisation to Generate New Creative Work Starts Sept 6 in North Hollywood
  • Two Kids Classes Start Sept 15 in Studio City
  • New! Chicago Weekend Intensive Oct 27 & 28. Register before August 15 for early bird pricing!

Viola Spolin’s Theater Games launched the American improvisational theater movement and changed the way acting is taught. Her work has influenced generations of actors and educators. In the workshops with sidecoach Aretha Sills, we’ll explore the groundbreaking exercises and theatrical concepts found in her seminal book Improvisation for the Theater, with an emphasis on the philosophies of legendary improvisation innovators Viola Spolin and Paul Sills, and on applying Spolin’s meditative methods to your work in any artistic discipline.

Learn more below...


Improvisation for Performance: The Sills/Spolin Method (Meets in Los Angeles)

“Focus is mediation in action.” —Viola Spolin

In this ten-week workshop that culminates with a show for an invited audience, we'll explore Spolin's many wonderful theater games for performance, working from a running order created by Paul Sills and performed on Broadway. Whether you’re an experienced improviser or actor seeking to hone your performance skills, or a non-performer wishing to tackle a fear of exposure, the workshop will give you tools to be more present and free on stage. Spolin’s meditative and intuitive methods and her unique theories about the relationship between audience and players create a safe and welcoming environment in which to explore public performance. Drama teachers and directors who’d like to present improvised shows with their groups are also encouraged to attend.

At our last session, we'll present an improvised show and party for an invited audience of friends and family. The workshop is open to players of all experience levels.

We'll meet: Tuesday nights,  Sept 4th - Nov 13th, 7:30 - 10pm,.  Please note: we will not meet October 23rd. Our final workshop on Nov. 13th will be a performance and reception for an invited audience.
Location: Subud Los Angeles, 5828 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, 90036.
Tuition: $400 or $360 for returning players. A few sliding-scale spots are available. Payment plans ok. Tuition is refundable minus a $50 fee if you cancel by August 4. 
Early Bird Discount: If you’d like to take this and Improvisation for Generating New Creative Work, tuition for both is $600 if you register by July 10. 
Registration: Email me with any questions, then visit here to register. I'll reply with payment info. 


Improvisation to Generate New Creative Work (Meets in North Hollywood)

“In any art form, we seek the experience of going beyond what we already know.” —Viola Spolin

Viola Spolin’s famously fertile theater games have inspired generations of artists to create new works in many genres. This nine-week workshop is for writers, directors, actors, solo performers, improvisers, storytellers, and anyone who wishes to and open up new avenues of expression in their creative work though intuitive play. 

We'll play theater games to help us spontaneously devise and generate new material, both written and improvised. We'll intuitively discover characters, scenes, and images that spark inspiration for new creative work, and then explore those sparks in solo writing exercises and group improvisations, with the aim of "going beyond what we already know.” 

Working collaboratively as well as  independently, we'll generate and shape new material inspired by the "explosions of spontaneity" that result from improvising with a shared focus. 

The workshop is open to players of all experience levels.

We'll meet: Nine Thursday nights, Sept 6 -  Nov 15th, 7:30 - 10pm. Please note: We will not meet October 4 and October 25.
Location: New Musicals Inc., 5628 Vineland Avenue,
North Hollywood, CA  91601
Tuition: $360 or $320  for returning players. A few sliding-scale spots are available. Payment plans ok. Tuition is refundable minus a $50 fee if you cancel by August 6.
Early Bird Discount: If you’d like to take this and Improvisation for Performance, tuition for both is $600 if you register by July 10.
Registration: Email me with any questions, then visit here to register. I'll reply with payment info. 


Youth Theater Game Workshops for Kids Ages 5 - 8 and 9 - 13 in Studio City! 

Generations of kids and adults have played Viola Spolin's improvisational theater games, among them Oscar and Tony-Award winning actors and directors. Spolin's meditative yet playful method helps students develop the ability to focus and allows each child's unique gifts to flourish. Students of all experience levels are welcome, including aspiring actors and those who just wish to play. Starting Sept 15: 5-week sessions for ages 5-8 and ages 9-13. Learn more here


NEW: Weekend Intensive in Chicago October 27 & 28

Sign up before August 15 for early bird pricing! 
Designed to introduce the key principles of Spolin's revolutionary acting, directing, and teaching methods in two days, the weekend intensive will help players be more fully present onstage and off.  Beginners and experienced players are welcome. 

We'll meet: Saturday and Sunday, Oct 27 & 28, 2018, from 10am to 4pm, with an hour lunch break at 1pm.
Location:  Foxhole Creative, 2444 W Montrose Ave., Chicago, Illinois 60618
Tuition: $250. through August 15; $265. after that. A few sliding-scale spots are available. Payment plans ok. Tuition is refundable minus $50 deposit if you cancel by Sept 27.
Registration:  Email with questions if needed, then please fill out the registration form found here. I will reply with payment instructions. 


Aretha Sills is the granddaughter of Viola Spolin. She studied theater games for many years with her father, director Paul Sills (creator/director of The Second City and Story Theater), and has conducted workshops for Paul Sills' Wisconsin Theater Game Center, Bard College, Stella Adler Studio of Acting, Stockholm International School, Sarah Lawrence College, and Northwestern University. She has worked with Tony- and Emmy-Award winning actors and has trained faculty from Northwestern, DePaul, Columbia College, The Second City, The Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science, LAUSD, CETA, and many other institutions and schools. She is the Associate Director of Sills/Spolin Theater Works and she directs The Predicament Players. 

 To be notified about upcoming workshops, or to inquire about private coaching or workshops for your school or group, please email aretha@arethasills.com. 

Quotes about the workshop:

“Aretha is dedicated to preserving the pureness of this technique, which from my point of view assists the actor to find the courage to find themself and then to fly. I believe she has, innately and amazingly, all the elements of the technique of both Viola Spolin and Viola’s son, the extraordinary director, Paul Sills. I have studied with Aretha, and believe me, the thrill lives on.” – Paul Sand, Tony Award winner, Paul Sills’ Story Theater; Original Second City cast member

“Aretha Sills, carrying on the work of Spolin and Sills, is an amazing, insightful side-coach and teacher. We were fortunate enough to take a workshop in L.A. with her and it helped us reconnect with theater game work on a deeper level. She knows her stuff. Can’t wait to work with her again!” – Deb Lacusta & Dan Castellaneta, The Simpsons, actor & writers

“If you are an aspiring actor who is really really really funny and you like to stand in one place running your big mouth and interrupting your friend who is only really funny, then you should take this workshop to cure you of that.”  -Brian Hamill, Mob Rule Inc. Senior Improvisation Workshop

“As an educator and instructor of acting and directing, I was eager to learn about the American theater improvisation developed by Viola Spolin and expounded by Paul Sills. Aretha Sills provides an insight into the authentic roots of the system that has been utilized for years by theatre training programs. The workshop will provide you with an excellent opportunity to explore various games and exercises to enrich your view of performance and acting.”  -Norma Saldivar, professor and chair, UNLV Department of Theatre, and executive director of the Nevada Conservatory Theatre

“Aretha is one of the century’s best improvisation teachers. Like her grandmother before her, she understands people, theater, and improvisation in an intuitive and deep way. As someone who has studied with some of the top teachers in the country and has performed for over 15 years, I can honestly say Aretha’s work opened my eyes. I understood improv on a deeper level. I was refreshed and returned to beginner’s mind.” -David Alger, founder Pan Theater

To be notified about upcoming workshops, or to inquire about workshops for your school or group, please email.

Learn about our new youth theater workshops in Los Angeles here

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